Trusty workhorses - 7 options for farmers looking to buy a reliable and versatile tractor


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Derek Casey

Derek Casey

Irish farmers buy more tractors in the 90-125hp power bracket than any other power segment.

The trend of engine size in new tractors bought in Ireland is generally slowly upward. As farm size increases and the number of farmers in the country decrease, experts predict that the average tractor bought here in 20 years' time may be around 140-150hp in size.

For the most part, buyers simply want a plucky reliable tractor capable of doing the basics well - good hydraulic output for loader work, gutsy power output at the PTO end for slurry spreading/feeding/mowing, and a smooth transmission for road transport. Here I look at seven such tractors, with prices ranging from a €35,000 entry level right up to the top end in terms of spec and asking prices of €150,000.

1. Massey Ferguson's popular 5700 tractors

Massey Ferguson this year expanded the appeal of its popular MF 5700 Global tractor series with its well trusted Dyna-4 transmission, now available for the four-cylinder MF 5710 and MF 5711 models. These 100hp and 110hp Dyna-4 models are also available with the option of cab suspension. Given their power ratings, the new additions are proving popular with Irish dairy and drystock farmers and join the MF 5708 and MF 5709 Dyna-4 three-cylinder models introduced last year.

Built in MF's tractor factory in Beauvais, France, the Dyna-4 option complements the existing MF 5710 and MF 5711 tractors which are equipped with 12x12 manual transmission. Constructed on the strong MF 5700 chassis, providing a 4.3t lift capacity, MF claims these cost-effective tractors are ideally suited to a wide range of field work and transport. They come equipped with a host of modern features which makes them ideally suited to loader operations.

Dyna-4 is a transmission that provides simple and convenient control of 16 forward and 16 reverse speeds with four power shift speeds in four ranges. A 'creep' speed is also an option.

With four change-on-the move speeds in each gear, it offers ease of operation with the left-hand Power Control lever and console-mounted T-lever. On top of straightforward, clutch-less range changes, it also offers sophistication with an automatic setting. In this setting the transmission changes gears automatically according to the engine load and speed. Priced from €60,000 plus VAT.

2. Mccormick X6 series an attractive option

Turning to McCormick, and the firm's X6 Series is proving attractive to farmers looking for a reliable tractor in the 110-125hp bracket. The 110hp McCormick X6.35, 119hp X6.45 and the range-topping 126hp X6.55 tractors slot into the range between the slightly smaller 85-113hp McCormick X5 Series and the larger 111-140hp X6.4 Series tractors.

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"These new models provide an attractive option for operators wanting extra power and performance over our X5 Series tractors - or similar models from other manufacturers - but who are not ready for the jump to the X6.4 range," explains Ray Spinks, sales director and general manager at McCormick distributor AgriArgo UK & Ireland.

"With up to 126hp, a choice of transmission and PTO packages, and a spacious but relatively low profile cab, we are confident these new models make an especially interesting proposition for small to medium size livestock farms," he added.

All three of the McCormick newcomers are powered by compact Deutz 3.6-litre, four-cylinder engines that have proven attractive in terms of performance and fuel economy in the 90-107hp McCormick X4 Series tractors. A power shuttle transmission is standard, with simple 12x12 and 16x16 creep manually selected gears, or 36x12 and 48x16 creep with three-speed power shift providing quick speed changes under load. An Eco option, which delivers 40kph at lower engine revs, helps optimise fuel economy on tractors engaged in a lot of road work or powering PTO-driven equipment.

A 66-litre/min gear pump for hydraulic services is complemented by a 30-litre/min pump dedicated to steering and control functions such as the hydraulic PTO and four-wheel drive clutches. The rear lift is rated at a very generous 6000kg. Prices start from around €60,000 plus VAT.

3. Landini 4-D Series

Looking for an option for an even simpler and lower-powered tractor that won't break the bank? Landini could have the answer with its new 4-D series. Up front, a new 2.9-litre Deutz four-cylinder engine nestles under the hood of the 4-D series to provide modest but reliable power outputs of 68hp, 75hp and 88hp, all driving through an Argo Tractors fully mechanical transmission. This is operated by floor-mounted gear levers, including the synchro forward-reverse selector to the left of the driver.

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A new cab option is available for the latest addition to the Landini tractor range, the basic-spec 4-D Series. The new range aims to meet the needs of farms wanting a simple workhorse tractor for routine jobs such as light cultivations, haymaking and yard scraping.

Many Irish farmers will love how specifications are kept as simple as possible with few frills. Landini argues that this not only helps keep the price down but also means owners are not buying features they are unlikely to use. Nonetheless, this tractor is by no means a light-weight; it is built to perform with durability and comes with the reliability achieved by using modern components and assemblies.

There are two- and four-wheel drive versions, the latter having the refinement of electro-hydraulic engagement of the front axle drive, and ground drive PTO is standard regardless of whether the tractor is equipped with 540rpm, 540/540E or 540/1000rpm power take-off. The rear three-point linkage rated at 3400kg is operated by simple lever controls. Prices start at around €35,000 plus VAT.

4. Case IH LuxXum

Traditionally a farmer favourite, Case IH set out to strengthen that reputation further when their Luxxum 100, 110 and 120 models were launched last year, replacing the brand's popular Farmall range. Rated power outputs are 99hp, 107hp and 117hp, provided by 3.4-litre, four-cylinder engines from FPT Industrial.

Key new in-cab features are the Multicontroller joystick, which operates gear and direction selection, linkage and spool valves, and the Multicontroller armrest, which incorporates a split throttle for max/min engine speed settings, plus hydraulic and transmission controls. A new 32F/32R automatic power shift transmission provides 40kph travel at 1730rpm and features adjustable power shuttle response and speed selection, plus auto field and road modes.

Case IH say the Luxxum front axle suspension provides the ability to raise and lower the tractor's front end via a console-mounted switch to boost traction in the field and improve stability and comfort on the road. All come with 'automated' 32x32 4-range power shift transmissions, with power-shuttles. The tractors can achieve a top speed of 40kph at a fuel-saving 1730rpm. Priced at around €55,000 plus VAT.

5. Zetor Forterra

Zetor's Forterra HD range covers power outputs of 130-150hp, which brings the Czech tractor maker right into the mainstream market. There are three Forterra HD models - 130hp, 140hp and 150hp. Axle suspension is available but not standard, but cab suspension does come as standard. The 30x30 transmission on the Forterra is the same as on the HSX, with five gears, three ranges and a high-low option. Hydraulic output is 85 litres/minute while rear lift capacity is an impressive 8,500kg. The front hitch can carry 3,500kg.

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Zetor has noticeably moved on in terms of design and made big gains in spec levels with the Forterra. Improvements include auto cut-out of the PTO at a predetermined height, external spool valves that can be set for different time delays and electronic toggle switches. At the back of the tractor, two spool valves that can be operated by a standard joystick should speed up jobs for anyone using as loader.

The Forterra HD is the first Zetor to offer a programmable headland management system. Along with the impressive gains in technology and spec offering from Zetor comes the unavoidable move in price point, with the Forterra HD being priced at around €70,000 including VAT.

6. Fendt 500 Vario

Fendt's updated 500 series takes centre stage when it comes to the 100-150hp market. Powered by a 4.04 ¬-litre Deutz engine, which now meets Stage IV emissions regulations, the 125hp to 165hp four cylinder range uses electronically ¬-controlled exhaust gas recirculation and map ¬-controlled AdBlue injection to reduce AdBlue consumption. ProfiPlus versions of the 500 series get a high ¬-spec guidance system that can be tailored to local signal availability, and the touchscreen terminal has been made more robust.

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Besides complying with the latest legal emissions, Fendt says it has designed the 500 series for more efficiency and equipped it with more optional features adopted from its higher-horsepower tractors. These include the new VarioGuide guidance system, the full glass front terminal, the 1000E PTO option, LED work lights, optional immobiliser and a flange or stub axle. It's an impressive specification level and one that marks Fendt apart from the rest. Prices for the 500 series also tend to mark it apart from the rest, and start from €140,000 plus VAT, meaning the 500 series is realistically targeted to either contractors or larger scale tillage farmers.

7. New Holland T5

New Holland has recently revamped its mid-range tractor model offering, with a comprehensive line-up in the under 120hp segment. It was a necessary move because when the T5000 series was discontinued in 2013 it created a gap in the firm's mid-range offering, particularly for farmers who need a versatile, compact tractor with good power and lift capacity at a reasonable price.

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It seems the under 120hp sector remains crucially important to New Holland, and the recent launch of T5 Electro Command and T5 Utility range tractors ensures New Holland customers once again have plenty of choice.

The three-model 100-120hp T5 Electro Command range won Best Utility at the Tractor of the Year awards last year, and feature a Tier 4B compliant engine and a number of performance improvements alongside updated styling.

Enhanced front suspension, uprated rear lift capacity, heavy-duty axle and 16x16 Electro Command transmission with auto functions, provide farmers with more flexibility to perform draft work with heavier implements. It is priced at around €60,000 plus VAT.

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